Catalogue description Diaries of Roger Casement

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Details of HO 161
Reference: HO 161
Title: Diaries of Roger Casement

The diaries of Sir Roger Casement, who was executed for high treason in 1916.

The Casement Diaries consist of three private diaries, a note book and a ledger. The diaries relate to Casement's time as consul in the Congo and in Rio de Janeiro, as well as some time spent in the United Kingdom and France. The diary entries are not continuous; there are large gaps between some entries. The diaries include observations on the people and conditions that he encountered in his investigations into the mistreatment of indigenous peoples in the Congo and in the Putumayo rubber industry in Peru.

Following his arrest in Ireland in 1916, the diaries were brought into New Scotland Yard from Casement's former London lodgings by a Mr Germain. They were not used in evidence at his trial, but were shown to various persons, including the American Ambassador, as evidence of Casement's homosexual activities, in order to blacken his character and counter the campaign for a reprieve from his death sentence.

Date: 1901-1911
Related material:

Files relating to the imprisonment, trial and execution of Casement and subsequent attempts to inspect his diaries, to have his possessions returned to his family and also requests for his remains to be exhumed and re-interred in Ireland are in HO 144/1637-23509 and in:

HO 144/23414

For letters Patent under the Great Seal degrading Casement from the dignity of a Knight Bachelor in 1917 see: HO 125/18

For the disposal of his papers see: PCOM 9/2326

HO 144/1636/311643/40

Information about the source of acquisition is in: MEPO 2/10672

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 5 volume(s)
Restrictions on use: The diaries were originally transferred to remain closed for 100 years, but with privileged access being allowed to 'historians, other responsible persons who have made a study of Casement's life and persons qualified to express an informed opinion on the authenticity of the diaries'. Following a review in 1994 the diaries were opened fully and were made available in October 1995.
Access conditions: Available in microform only
Custodial history: The Diaries were passed by the Metropolitan Police to the Home Office in 1925 and were subsequently transferred to the Public Record Office in 1959.
Administrative / biographical background:

Roger David Casement (1 September 1864 - 3 August 1916) was an Irishman who joined the Colonial Service, under the authority of the Colonial Office. In 1901 he transferred to the Foreign Office to serve as a consul in various countries. As a diplomat he became a humanitarian activist investigating the abuses of colonial regimes.

He was honoured in 1905 for the Casement Report on the Congo and knighted in 1911 for his important investigations of human rights abuses in Peru. Influenced by the Boer War and his investigation into colonial atrocities against indigenous peoples, Casement grew to distrust imperialism. After retiring from consular service in 1913, he became more involved with Irish republicanism and other separatist movements. After the outbreak of the Great War Casement travelled to Germany, where he attempted to recruit Irish prisoners of war to fight for Irish independence. He was returned to Ireland in April 1916 to encourage a nationalist rising but he was arrested, convicted of high treason and executed in Pentonville Prison on 3 August 1916.

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